Thursday, March 26, 2015

Passover Fun at Manhattan Village Mall

Wow- a whole new spin on fun in the mall.  I'm so excited to announce that this year the Manhattan Village Mall will be hosting a Passover gathering, rather than just it's usual Easter Bunny Tea party.

So come on down on Sunday, March 29th to join in the fun.

This might seem a bit stupid, but I'm beyond thrilled that they will be doing this project this year.  While the December dilema is published everywhere, and we do a lot to try to take care of it.  The mall has a chanukah night, and there are menorah lightings at most of the major city halls.  But come Passover and Easter, it's a different story.

Rows and rows of candy greet your children in the grocery store.  Then each and every store has out adorable white and pastel colored dresses with big Happy Easter labels.  Even good old Parents Magazine- which promises 'Spring Fun' really means Easter...

Now, to be fair, they do have a single Passover recipe in the back, but far be it from them to include that on the cover....

So, here's to you Manhattan Village Mall- thanks for making space and time for everyone this holiday season.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Passover Cooking Class


RSVP for
The Seder Made Simple
A Pre-Passover Workshop and Cooking Class
******************************************************************    
Join the Rebbetzins of the Beach Cities JCC for an enriching and entertaining evening of quick yet delicious Kosher-for Passover recipes. This workshop will give you all the skills and recipes you need to know to help bring the Passover story to life. Make this year's Seder an unforgettable experience.   
Date: Tonight
March 24, 2015

Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Location: The Jewish Community Center
2108 Vail Ave. Redondo Beach 
Fee: $20  


Looking forward to seeing you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Passover Easter Basket

If you are anything like my family, you have some family that celebrates Easter.  And it can be a bit of a difficult holiday, since everything Easter is sort of anti-Passover.  The story of Easter is completely unconnected to Passover.  The traditional foods of Easter (candy, Ham, morning brunch) are difficult when observing Passover restrictions.

This year, however, thanks to the rise in gluten free and natural candies, we have a whole new world open to present a Passover appropriate Easter Basket:

Item #1:


Yup, this is an adorable book about bunnies celebrating Passover.  Why didn't we think of this before.  Want to give a little stuffed bunny or a chocolate one- even a few bunny eggs.  All totally approprate when they accompany this book about bunnies.  Thank you Linda Glaser!

Item #2:
By WhitA
Yup, traditional real 'Easter' eggs are totally Kosher for Passover and all year round.  No issues with Chametz, no issues with food coloring.  Have at it and make them part of the basket.  An egg is a traditional part of a Passover Seder plate, so all the more reason to have the eggs included.

Item #3:

Candy items.  You can't really give an Easter basket without candy in it.  But here's the good thing.  You don't have to try to hard to find good candy for Passover kiddos.  No, it won't likely be OU Passover certified, but I don't believe it has to be.  I don't believe that I have to have someone else certify my chocolate- I believe what's written.  So with that in mind, here are some options:




Yup- Dove Dark has no Corn-Syrup, and neither do any Surf Sweets or YumEarth Naturals.  Both of these are usually found at Sprouts and Whole foods.  So, if Jelly beans are your thing, don't be too put out.  Trader Joes has a huge selection of pops and other candies that are Corn free as well!

It can be hard to share this holiday with everyone, but then again, it can also be rewarding.  To see the smile on a little girlie when she gets to eat the sweets inside....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mitzvot of Passover

My family tradition is to always spend the first night of Passover with my extended family, and typically the second night of Passover with extended friends.  This year, with Passover over Shabbat I imagine that many people will be inclined to host a Seder this year.  Having all day Saturday to prep, and all day Sunday to clean it up.  It's a lot harder to make it happen when it's on a Tuesday..

While Passover has always been my thing, I've always been surprised about the misinformation out there.  We have only a few Torah driven commandments for Passover:

1. Celebrate Passover (Exodus 23:14)
2. Remove Chametz (Exodus 12:15, etc.)
3. Rest on the first day of Passover (Exodus 12:16)
4. Tell the Exodus Story (Exodus 13:8)
5. Eat Matzah (Exodus 12:18)

All the rest of them are rabbinical observances and mitzvot- leaning over, drinking four cups of wine, eating the bitter herb, finding the afikomen, etc.

This is why, if you have children in your life, I suggest that you take a note from the commandments of Torah, and KISS- keep it simple stupid.

There's no commandment to actually have a Seder.  The pieces of the Seder are Talmudic ideas that help us ensure that we tell all of the story, and that we discuss the relevant pieces.  What does this mean for you?  That you can and should tell the story, but if in doing so you are all lost in the exercise of having a Seder, and not telling the story, then you've lost the point.

Since we always meet with my extended family for Passover, it's traditional for my family to do a stricter version of the Seder.  We all have the same Haggadahs, etc.  But now that there are children in the mix, I really don't want my kids to think that all the Passover Seder is is an obligation.

Yes, a commandment is an obligation.

No, we don't have to see it as just that.

Telling the Passover story is an opportunity. To reclaim part of our heritage. To share time with family and friends.  To invest in understanding our Judaism a little bit more, in a slightly different way.

So this year, I say you let it go...gently.  Let everyone sit around the couch and the cocktail table.  Worry less about passing a piece of parsley covered in salt water, and more about whether you are connecting with the story.

Eat your Matzah

Avital Pinnick
Remove the Chametz

Goldberg
Tell the story.



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dear Disneyland

I think it's time that I wrote to you to express my thanks.  I've been extremely impressed with how you've handled yourselves when it comes to dealing with tiny children. As a mother of two, under two, I feel like I'm your target audience.  I've got two girlie girls who want to dress up like princesses, but still want to fight the good fight as a Jedi Knight.  And you've got me covered there.

Each time I've gone into a restroom I've been pleasantly surprised by freestanding changing tables, equipped with extra paper towels, toilet paper, and a trashcan literally inches from where my baby is.  I can throw away a dirty diaper without ever taking my hands off my kiddo, and that's aces.

We've been bringing both kiddos together, which is a lot of work.  However, despite the fact that my littlest is just a tiny tiny, you've managed to have enough for her to enjoy, even from the seat of her Lillebaby carrier.


From parades, to rides, she has a ton of fun.  Even when she's sleeping she can still go on It's a small world, and nursing in the darkness of Pirates is a truly awesome experience.

While you have candy looking at my kiddo at every turn, I've been impressed with the meal selections for the little ones.  While I generally hate on kids meals, you have them including carrots and apple slices, as well as a milk option at every restaurant we've been to, so you get some kudos there as well.  Ample high chairs means we've never been stuck waiting while everyone else is eating.

Then there's the kiddo corner at the end of Main Street.  Since discovering this spot, it's been the talk of the town for my older daughter.  She's potty training, so she loves to insist that we go to the 'her size' potty.  And since it's so centrally located we can walk over in between a ride on the carousel and waiting in line for Dumbo without much fuss.  It's such a cozy space for my nursing baby too- comfy wicker chairs, and those coat hooks for mommies- almost perfect in every way.  The staff is great, it smells nice and seems so clean.  Books and a cute movie in the A/C- perfect on those hot days.

But then we get to Disney's California Adventure- and everything takes a step back.  I'll hand it to you- you were really smart when you decided to put Frozen Fun in DCA.  It meant that a trip to D-land virtually has to include DCA if you really want to 'Let it Go'.  And when it comes to that-you  did it right.


The way you orchestrate the visits with Elsa and Anna- pure genius.  My little girls feel loved, and honored and like they are the most important people in the world in that moment.  Really, they do.

It's just such a shame that you totally screwed it up in terms of amenities.  Let's chat for a moment about the Kids support area in DCA.  It's a mockery of the Disneyland version.  You walk inside and it feels cold, and hollow.  A mishmash of inconsequential furniture, without a care to the love of kids.  No books on the tables, no cozy kids size rocking chair here...

Then we get to the changing table area.  Smell and dirty feeling.  The worst version of a cheap Craigslist changing table I can imagine.  Practically not sturdy enough for my little 7-month old, let alone how I would feel about putting my almost three-year old on it.  Then I need to nurse, and it just gets worse.  Two chairs behind a gross shower curtain.  That curtain the only thing separating me from the kids potties.  

Picture this- me, my baby, and a 3 year old screaming his head off about wanting to try to aim his pee himself.  Don't worry- he can do it!  But me, I just can't.  The smell, the noise- just horrendous.  I feel like I'm nursing in a bathroom.  I'd rather be in the heat then trying to make this work out.  The chairs are the worst version of awful too... whoever bought those must never have been a nursing mother.  Armrests in exactly the most annoying spot possible to make it uncomfortable to hold up a child to the breast.

So, Disneyland- we will keep on coming, and DCA (aka the unloved step-child), I will try hard not to hold it against you.  

Lets hope that at some point you decide that DCA matters too, and spread a little bit of the charm it's way....

Friday, March 13, 2015

Free-Range Kids? Or trip to the Pen?

I can't help but comment on the resent arrest of a mother, Danielle Meitiv, for letting her two children walk home from the park by themselves.  A 10 year old with a six year old.  Do I know the 'whole situation'?  No, I don't.  I only know what the media is sharing... but I've seen it before...  

Remember the mom arrested for letting her 9 year old be at the park alone while she worked at McDonalds.  The Florida mom who let a 7 year old walk to the neighborhood park...

It makes me so sad to think that we live in a time when our kids have to be in our sight, in our arms, all the time.

I let EG wander the park by herself.  We have a large park around the corner, and when we go to Anderson park, I sit on the bench with Ocho and let EG wander around.  I keep an eye on her, she knows she needs to check in every few minutes.  I let her climb the ladders, go on the swings, do it all without her mom right there.

Has she fallen?  Yes.  Has she gotten hurt?  Yes.  Do I think I'm doing anything wrong?  No.

I even let her play outside in the front, unfenced yard, by herself while I go in to check on dinner.  Do I think this is neglect, hell no.

I would be lying if I didn't say that some parents look at me strangely.  Some of them worry and wonder about me and my kiddos.  My favorite is when other parents try to help my kid climb something- something she is perfectly capable of doing on her own.  Honestly, if she can't do it herself, then you helping her is just setting her up for misery and a bigger fall down the line... but I digress.

Kids need to be independent.   It's a skill we find very, very important.  We've worked hard to create children who are self-motivated, independent thinkers and players.  People who can rely on themselves when they need something, and know when they need help.

I'm just so overwhelmed by the idea that there is an attack on parents.  In most of these cases, another adult called the police about the children.  The police didn't just wander over, they were called there because someone else called them.  Another parent, a concerned bystander. When did a child being alone become neglect?  It's not like these kids didn't know who they were.  They were each very reasonable children, who felt safe, who were safe, until some stranger started asking them odd questions.  

Working Dad and I have been in a disagreement about EG and Ocho.  I'm of the opinion that EG can help 'watch' Ocho, but if Ocho does something wrong, the responsibility/blame lies with the child who did the wrong doing, not the child who is doing the watching.  My opinion is that it won't really ever be possible for EG to have 'responsibility' for her sister who is only two years younger.  They are too close in age to really have that type of relationship.

He feels differently, that if EG is 'babysitting' then if Ocho writes on the walls it's EG's fault.  He believes that there will come a time when EG will watch Ocho.  Of course, it's totally irrelevant at almost 3 and almost 1.

It seems like our parents had it easier.  I remember walking to the 'park' around the corner from my house back when the park was just an empty lot frequented by high school skateboarders.  They didn't even build the park until 1991.  Which means that I was a 6 year old hanging around in a dirt lot with my 8 year old sister.  Apparently CPS should have arrested my parents.

I think the hardest part about all of this is that the rules are totally arbitrary.  Here in CA there is no law about when you can leave a child alone.  No laws about when a child is old enough to babysit.  And I'm not saying there should be.  However, sometimes it's nice to have it be black and white- then you at least know where you stand.

I wish that my Sister-in-Law, who home schools, didn't have to be so worried about sending her kiddos to the local park.  That she won't really let them out of the house during 'school' hours, despite their home school status because she worries about them being approached by a police officer and getting into trouble.  The kind of trouble it's really hard to get out of.

I believe in letting my child be independent.  Here's hoping I'm not the next tragic CPS case.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hurry Up: Childhood is leaving

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are hurrying along your children, only to realize that there is absolutely no reason.  You probably know what I'm talking about- the grocery store, the library, all those everyday moments.

When you feel like you have to move move move.  Get it done, get to the next place, and your hurrying the world along. Or at least you are trying to.

Sometimes it's when you are trying to make dinner, and all she wants to do is help you do it.  She wants to stir, or see, or help.  And all you want is to get it done...

These moments- childhood is slipping away.  The teaching moment, the enjoyable moment.  The moments to see her for who she is, and what she's becoming.  Because she's growing up in these moments.  When you are worried about overcooking the sauce, she's learning how she should behave in the kitchen.  She's learning about why you make dinner- for the family, for her father...for an obligation?

I'm constantly amazed at how much she grasps, changes and grows each and everyday.  How she learns to communicate, share and become the girl she is growing up to be.

I want her to be strong, proud, and eager.  I want her to take life by the hands and giggle.  I don't want to tell her not to get dirty before dinner- I want her to explore the world, and not worry about the laundry.  But it's hard.

It's oh so hard....


They are moving faster than the speed of light it seems.  Just yesterday I would swear that Ocho was born, and yet here she is, moving, growing, learning, reacting.  Here they both are, becoming the sisters I've always wanted them to be.  Kind, thoughtful, imaginative.  Turning towards each other for fun, games, and frivolity.  But also when things are hard.  Caring, growing, concerned.  Helping each other through the rough times that can happen in life.

How do they learn these things?  It's those moments when I'm trying to hurry up.  When we need to get dressed to get out of the house- when I would rather be by myself than reading her another story (or the same one for the 15th time).  When it seems easiest just to cut my losses and run.  They are learning.  How to treat each other, how to deal with set-backs.  How to be who they will be.


And though it seems impossible, each moment is one we can't get back.  Each moment they get one step closer to adults and further away from children. Ocho is closer to being one than she is to being born.  And it's amazing.

It's watching her remember something for the first time.  It's seeing her light-up at the sight of her daddy or her sister. It's helping her understand that just because I'm not with her, I still love her, I'm still with her in her heart.

It's teaching them both that they can't take back these moments.  It's helping them see the beauty and the grace in everyday obligations.  Helping them see that childhood is leaving, so we better hurry up and enjoy the moment.

All photos the work of Laura Layera, Luluphoto.
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